Kathleen has finished her first 6 months on the mission!! El tiempo pasa!! We're behind posting her letters to the blog, so Mom is going to post 2 letters today. In case you can't tell, Hna Sykes is the sparky girl in the middle, complete with lightening bolt over her head. Her companion, Hna Griffin is on the left and a member of the ward is on the right. It was a ward talent show. We think the Hermanas' talent was to be bright and beautiful!!
Here are her reports:
This week was awesome. Hermana Griffin and I are a machine. we saw a lot of miracles this week.
Perhaps I could start with funny stories. Yesterday we taught a eccentric man who invited us to his house, but mostly so he could talk about how he paid a preacher from America 20 Euro to heal him with salt... He told us that he couldn't understand us because I´m an American (Fun fact: some people think I´m Spanish now). So he told me to speak to our member at the lesson in Spanish and she could translate to me.
Just to clarify, this meant that I said something to her in Spanish, and then she said the exact same thing to him... In Spanish. We were awkwardly trying to wrap up the lesson so we could get home in time, but his girlfriend walked in and was very excited to see us there. She had met with missionaries before and wanted to meet with us again.
We've been focusing on helping the members this week. We had a zone conference with a General Authority (Elder Dyches, who was in the same mission as Dad and told me he remembers his name). He mentioned that too often, missionaries come into the homes of the members, play with their kids for 15 minutes and suddenly ask for a referral. This generally doesn't result in much.
We instead took his advice and we went to a member´s house with the intention helping them feel like we were their to serve them and help them bring their friends to Christ. We played a game with their kids where they had to find a toy in the room. We started singing the mother´s favorite hymn, and we got louder the closer their little girl got to the toy.
We explained that the people who want to hear the message of the Gospel are not that hard to find, but they´re much easier to find when you have a friend helping you. Translation: As the missionaries, we´re hear to help you bring your friends to Christ, and your friends need your help to come unto Christ.
The little kids were thrilled and the mother was super excited to help us with missionary work.
By the way, the thing you mentioned about the Priers asking people to open their homes to the missionaries is a great suggestion. People who genuinely want to be friends with the missionaries investigators, especially when they are willing to share their home with them, really makes a difference for people. If you are looking for something simple you could do to help the missionaries, this is it. It makes a world of difference.
We had three awesome miracles this week.
We went street contacting earlier this week and we stopped a man, Mo, and talked to him about how his family can be eternal. He seemed really excited to hear more. He even went out of his way to meet with us and has been in contact a few times because he wants to learn even more. We committed him to be baptized on March 27 in the first lesson. He accepted without the slightest hint of fear.
We also contacted a woman named M this week. We attempted to teach her on the street but she told us something we hear a lot: "No, sorry I don´t have time..."
She ended with something I have never heard in my life: "But I do want to hear more... What´s your number? In fact my kids are upstairs in this building. You should make them come to church on Sunday. No, I want you to teach them right now. Let me let you into the house. Their names are K, Da and Nia. Da! Let these nice ladies in. They´re going to talk to you about God. Make them pray for me. Thanks!"
They are a family from Bolivia, and they've been here for about 2 years. We taught them and they seemed really receptive. They seemed a little sad, but slightly more chipper when we had left the house.
We also had an incredible experience last night. By way of introduction, while I´ve been on my mission I've noticed the Spirit works in an interesting way. Instead of feeling overwhelming feelings and thought that prompt me to do things, I feel a slight hum (a little like a generator). I know instinctively who we need to talk to and what to say including this woman...
We were on our way to another appointment and we saw a woman on a park bench. We went over to talk to her and she said "You can say whatever you want. I probably won´t respond. I´m having a bad day." We sat and spoke to her for a few minutes. She told us her partner of 20 years passed away a few days ago, and she felt an incredible amount of guilt.
She had left to visit someone over the weekend, and when she returned, he had died. She didn´t have a job, and she felt such an incredible pain. She didn´t know what to do or where to turn. She had just gotten out of a chruch, and she felt slightly better. As she started to explain how she felt she began to cry.
We testified to her that the Savior knows exactly how she feels and we shared Alma 7:11-13. Hermana Griffin bore a very powerful testimony that they can be together for eternity. She responded "Well... This has to be true, right? Jesus Christ is all powerful and he can achieve this." We prayed with her and told her how much we loved her. (I can´t say that I have ever felt so much spontaneous love this strongly before).
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.)
We gave her a hug, and she told us how much she needed this hug. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my mission. It´s what I came out here to see and experience.
Today--03/16/15 6 Month "Cumplemes"
This week was really awesome. Unfortunately, I don´t have a lot of time to respond to emails today, so I won´t be able to respond too much to questions. But don´t worry, I have read your emails.
But HOLY WOW! Time has gone too fast! I´m going to be home in a year! I don´t feel like I have enough time to get anything done!
This week was really awesome, and it was almost all because the members made it awesome. Members are one of the most invaluable aspects of missionary work. We spent a lot of time going to members´ houses to do a little Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening or FHE). We played a short game with them and gave them a card we decorated with a missionary challenge (don´t worry, I´ll send all of you a copy with a commitment to do it.) ;). It went over really well with all the members.
We began to notice throughout the week that the members were really on our team. We had also been blessed with a lot of opportunities to give service to the members and I think they really appreciated it.
The ward mission leader asked us to teach the ward´s family home evening (missionaries never teach FHE in this ward). Even better, on Sunday, one member offered to go contacting with us a few times this week, and two girls asked us if we wanted to do splits and contact for an hour and a half yesterday. Obviously, the answer was yes. The Lord and the ward are really looking out for us.
We also went to the house of a member who had been hospitalized for the second or third time this month. We shared a message about prayer (Alma 34:18-27) and it had brought tears to her eyes. We assured her she could pray and ask for help whenever she wanted and she would receive help. We also went to the house of a member to teach a small FHE. She and her children loved it. When we were at the church for an activity I suddenly heard "HERMANA SEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKSSSSSSSS!!!!!! HERMANA GGGGRRRREEEEEEEEEFFFFFEEEEEEEENNNNN!!!!!!!!!" Their little girl had been so excited to see us.
Also, a 19 year old, less active member made us a chocolate cake... All for us. :)
We´re teaching some awesome people with a lot of promise. We contacted a guy on the street the other day who was really special. We both said that we had felt a nudge to talk to him after this encounter. I was about to let him pass us, but their was a thought in my mind saying "Kathleen, you let a lot of people pass you on the street assuming they don´t need the Gospel. Please don´t let this one pass you." I´m really happy we didn't let him pass us.
We started talking to him and asked him if he believed in God. He told us that earlier in his life, he didn't but because of so many of the trials he had suffered for the last year, he wanted to begin relying on God to help him. He has a lot of faith. He opened up to us about what he was struggling with and for the most part, we just listened (which he appreciated). I really understood a lot of his problems -- as I had struggled with some of the same things -- and we talked to him about the atonement of Jesus Christ, that because of it, the Lord knows all of his pains and trials. But he also knows how we can overcome them. We prayed with him and we exchanged numbers. We´re going to meet with him today.
My companion told me right afterwards that she had felt the Spirit very strongly as I talked to him. I knew it was because the Lord had prepared us for this encounter. I´m really grateful for this experience.
We also met with a man named Jx this week. He´s super smart and has great questions. Sometimes I think that people think that we don´t like it when people ask tricky questions, but I prefer it when my investigators ask lots of questions. This way I KNOW what we need to teach them and if they are really understanding.
We had a really good first lesson with him and he understood it really well. The second lesson, he came with our pamphlet all marked up with a written list of questions! We decided not to go with our lesson plan and simply work on answering his questions. He asked a lot of questions and we were able to answer all of them really well. He had been looking at what appears to be some less-than-pro-Mormon websites, but we assured him that if he read the Book of Mormon and prayed to know the truth that he would receive an answer. He told us if he knew for himself (we promised him it was a matter of when, not if) that he would get baptized. He´s really excited to progress.
We also had some less-than-awesome lessons this week. We met with a Dominican family -- who, truth be told, have some potential to progress -- but they had mentioned to us in the first lesson that they had 22 other missionaries in their apartment before... Over the course of a few years... We don´t know what we´re getting ourselves into... They did mention, however, that they never liked the missionaries from other religions. They felt like they were too pushy Nonetheless, they seem excited to read the Book of Mormon and start the process over again.
They also offered us soup like 12 times during the lesson. We thought they already had it made, but as we left they told us they were on the way out the door too to go buy ingredients for the soup. The thought did go through our minds that maybe that´s where the other 22 missionaries went... Into the soup... But I´m pretty sure I´m overreacting.
The stake also had a talent show for the young men and young women this week in our building. A really inappropriate talent show. To be fair, most of the music the acts used were in English and most people probably didn´t realize how explicit these songs were. All the red-faced, American missionaries (who brought investigators, by the way), on the other hand, did realize how explicit the music was.
During personal study this morning I had some interesting revelations. I was studying Ether 12 in the Book of Mormon (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/ether/12). This chapter talks a lot about faith, and how if we have faith, we can do anything. I was really struck by verses 26 and 27:
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
I was reminded of a story in the Bible. Jesus´ disciples find a blind man and assumed it was either his fault or the fault of his parents that he was blind. The Savior, in his firm but loving way, corrects them and says that neither party had the blame, but he was blind so that the glory of God could be made manifest. The man, because of his faith was healed and could see.
The Lord often works the same way with us. We have weaknesses and faults, and sometimes, we even sin. Personally I often get really mad at myself for these faults. But I was humbled by the fact that the Lord gave me these faults. If I have the humility and the faith to be made whole, the Lord will make my weaknesses into strengths. The Lord can use my weaknesses to show miracles to others. If I have the humility, I will allow him to do so.
That´s it for this week. I love you guys so much! Have a wonderful week!